ADVANCED PRAISE


“There's simply—and also not so simply—more life in this poetry than in almost all the other poetry that isn't this poetry; more life, and more kinds of life, and more slivers and slices, the kind whose savor and importance poetry helps you recognize, whether it's a sensory impression, wrought with all seven senses alert, or good wry advice: “Parents are running a three-legged race,” for example, or “you always pay as we go,” or "the longer you drive,/ the more you have to get back home." Here are real towns, real families, real jokes, real fears, real “bicycles/ with training wheels,” “a zone of green yards” with “a spit-shine of black granite,” and (coming indoors, with bears, sonot quite domestic) “a sudden slight dip in the bathtub temperature.” Here are bad cookies, good apologies, and a really supple language that can helix its way around and above whatever life can throw at the singular poet involved. Let the poems come to you at home. They'll stay.”

—Stephen Burt

 

“What gives weight and density to David Blair's remarkable poems is there almost Hardyish sense of regret and loss. So many of his poems are little dramas of  what wasn't said when it should have been said, or of the way celebratory  instincts get undermined by the pressures of day to day life. I admire the quick  shifts in voicing, the way a whole social world becomes revealed in some small characteristic gesture, and how alert Blair is to other people. Very few poets ever achieve this kind of fellow feeling and write about it with such tact and intelligent sympathy.”

—Tom Sleigh

 

“David Blair, whose first book, Ascension Days, blew more than a few minds, is a wholly original American poet—his poems yammer and jam, they aria and catalogue and whine, combining kaleidoscopic perceptual and social detail with a sensibility that is smart, canny, but affectionate. If Frank O'Hara and James Schuyler were available these days, they might manage the kind of clear-eyed and street savvy impressionism that Blair possesses.  He is here though, and they are not, and he raves, moonwalks, and bebops through these mean streets with a life force and contemporary bravado which is its own meaning. This is poetry owned by no aesthetic party or posse, yet which somehow includes them all.”

—Tony Hoagland

 

“As in his wonderful celebratory poems in his previous books, these new poems celebrate the joys and plights of being citizens of a particular place and in a particular family, with bodies that are our own and individual but, being human, are also representative. He has this sense of how each one of us is one of us, and now this is so is brilliantly represented in these poems. I'm lost in admiration of the verve and pace of his lines, the energy and wit, the capacity for what I would call sympathetic pathos; and of how the poems convey their own joy in the experience of being written—and said, his language and its rhythms full of the sensations of actual speech.”

—David Ferry

 

Friends With Dogs is like a long fast-paced walk with your weirdest, smartest friend. A sometimes lonely, sometimes lovesick tour guide, the speaker in the poems trampolines us from gazpacho to misbehaving dental hygienists, then moves us seamlessly through Boston streets, Irish buses, and family beaches as though the world were one endless city block. This book makes me want to believe in this connected world, to “shoot burning arrows of love” through all of the broken shiny pieces that create it, and then actually live there because, after all, it’s real.”

—Julia Story

 

“What a strange and intense book this is! David Blair has a wild, restless imagination and he uses language like saw, a hammer, a velvet whip. He can write incredibly tender (and original) love poems and enfilading satirical poems, as well as many of the many other “kinds” of poems between those poles, and they all seem entirely at home, indeed, need to be in this book together. His music, his diction, his refusal to use (ever!) cliches, his syntax all drive his poems and their hearts forward. That is where his poems go: forward. He will be in the company of the best poets of his generation.”

—Thomas Lux

 

“David Blair's work is both public and discreet, somewhere between black box theatre and a blind date with an utterly beguiling stranger. His poems are dinner parties, intimate and sumptuous, arranged with great care and yet full of unforeseen turns: the pope gives way to 'the first red coils of the peonies' and a the hair of a lost aviator becomes ‘brown, fibrous light.’ How refreshingly unlike contemporary poetry this book is; a pleasure.”

—D. A. Powell